Art History: Prehistory to the Modern Era

Question 1: Perspective

Scientific perspective was often used during the Renaissance era to create illusionistic works of art.
In your response, discuss how specific works of art used the science of perspective techniques in paintings. Compare and contrast specific art examples from the Northern Renaissance and the Italian Renaissance.
In your own words, summarize how the artworks are reflective of the cultures that created them.
Assignment 2: Essay
By Wednesday, October 1, 2014, select one of the questions listed below and develop an essay response of approximately 350 words. Analyze and identify specific historical and visual examples to support your understanding of the topic. Include images with complete identifying information of the specific works of art you chose. Compose your thoughts with careful research and formulate independent conclusions.
Reference and cite (using MLA format) the textbook and at least one other scholarly source (e.g., a class lecture, scholarly article, or museum website). If you need help with MLA formatting, please visit the Writing Center or Tutoring Services. Note: Wikipedia, blogs, and answers/Yahoo! websites are not permitted scholarly sources.
Grammar and spelling are expected to reflect college-level work. Please spell-check and proofread all work prior to submission.
Post your response in a Microsoft Word file to the W5 Assignment 2 Dropbox (do not post anything to the Discussion Areas for the questions). Name your file LastNameFirstIntial_W5_A2_QuestionNumber.doc
Note: Rubrics provide an explanation for full or partial credit. If a criteria listed is not addressed you will receive a zero for that section.

Assignment 2 Grading Criteria

Maximum Points

Develop a response with accurate and relevant historical information that thoroughly supports the topic and the culture discussed.

10

Analyze and thoroughly identify multiple, visual examples that thoroughly support the topic.

10

Formulate independent conclusions based on research, analysis, and visual observations that support the topic.

10

Utilize the text and scholarly sources that support the response.

10

Employs correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and appropriate logic, voice, and utilize correct MLA formatting.

10

Total:

50

Early Northern Renaissance:
8-4: JAN VAN EYCK, Ghent Altarpiece (closed), Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, completed 1432. Oil on wood, 11′ 5″ × 7′ 6″. By: Bridgeman Art Library 3/4 .
https://digitalbookshelf.aionline.edu/#/books/1111904871/pages/51103546
Jan van Eyck
The first Netherlandish painter to achieve international fame was JAN VAN EYCK (ca. 1390–1441), who in 1425 became Philip the Goodâ€s court painter. The artist moved his studio to Bruges, where the duke maintained his official residence, in 1432, the year he completed the Ghent Altarpiece (FIGS. 8-4 and 8-5) for the church in Ghent originally dedicated to Saint John the Baptist (since 1540 Saint Bavo Cathedral). One of the most characteristic art forms in 15th-century Flanders was the monumental freestanding altarpiece, and the Ghent Altarpiece is one of the largest. Placed behind the altar, these imposing works served as backdrops for the Mass. Given their function, it is not surprising that many altarpieces depict scenes directly related to Christâ€s sacrifice. Flemish altarpieces most often took the form of polyptychs (hinged multipaneled paintings or relief panels). The hinges allowed the clergy to close the polyptychâ€s side wings over the center panel(s). Artists decorated both the exterior and interior of the altarpieces. This multiple-image format allowed artists to construct narratives through a sequence of images, somewhat as in manuscript illustration. Although scholars do not have concrete information about when the clergy opened and closed these altarpieces, evidence suggests they remained closed on regular days and were opened on Sundays and feast days. This schedule would have allowed viewers to see both the interior and exterior—diverse imagery at various times according to the liturgical calendar.

Early Northern Renaissance:

8-8: HUGO VAN DER GOES, Portinari Altarpiece (open), from Santâ€Egidio, Florence, Italy, ca. 1476. Tempera and oil on wood, center panel 8′ 3 ½” x 10′, each wing 8†3 ½” x 4†7 ½”. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. By: Ronald V. Weidenhoeft. 1/7.

https://digitalbookshelf.aionline.edu/#/books/1111904871/pages/51103551

This altarpiece is a rare instance of the awarding of a major commission in Florence to a Flemish painter. The Italians admired the incredibly realistic details and Hugoâ€s brilliant portrayal of human character.
After Portinari placed his altarpiece in the family chapel in the Florentine church of Santâ€Egidio, it created a considerable stir among Italian artists. Although the painting as a whole may have seemed unstructured to them and the varying scale of the figures according to their importance perpetuated medieval conventions, Hugoâ€s masterful technique and incredible realism in representing drapery, flowers, animals, and, above all, human character and emotion made a deep impression on the Italians.

Early Italian Renaissance Art:

8-27: SANDRO BOTTICELLI, Birth of Venus, ca. 1484–1486. Tempera on canvas, 5′ 9″ × 9′ 2″. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. By: Dr. Ronald V. Weidenhoeft. 4/8

https://digitalbookshelf.aionline.edu/#/books/1111904871/pages/51103570

Sandro Botticelli

Fra Filippoâ€s most famous pupil was SANDRO BOTTICELLI (1444–1510), whom the Medici frequently employed and whom art historians universally recognize as one of the great masters of line. One of the works Botticelli painted in tempera on canvas for the Medici is Birth of Venus (FIG. 8-27). The theme was the subject of a poem by Angelo Poliziano (1454–1494), a leading humanist of the day. In Botticelliâ€s lyrical painting of the poetâ€s retelling of the Greek myth, Zephyrus (the west wind), carrying Chloris, blows Venus, born of the sea foam and carried on a cockle shell, to her sacred island, Cyprus. There, the nymph Pomona runs to meet her with a brocaded mantle. The lightness and bodilessness of the winds propel all the figures without effort. Draperies undulate easily in the gentle gusts, perfumed by rose petals that fall on the whitecaps. The nudity of Botticelliâ€s Venus was in itself an innovation. As noted earlier, the nude, especially the female nude, was exceedingly rare during the Middle Ages. The artistâ€s use (especially on such a large scale) of an ancient Venus statue—a Hellenistic variant of Praxiteles†famous Aphrodite of Knidos (FIG. 2-47)—as a model could have drawn the charge of paganism and infidelity. But in the more accommodating Renaissance culture and under the protection of the powerful Medici, the depiction went unchallenged. Inspired by an Angelo Poliziano poem and classical statues of Aphrodite (FIG. 2-47), Botticelli revived the theme of the female nude in this elegant and romantic representation of Venus born of the sea foam.
Botticelliâ€s style is clearly distinct from the earnest search many other artists pursued to comprehend humanity and the natural world through a rational, empirical order. Indeed, Botticelliâ€s elegant and beautiful style seems to have ignored all of the scientific knowledge 15th-century artists had gained in the understanding of perspective and anatomy. For example, the seascape in Birth of Venus is a flat backdrop devoid of atmospheric perspective. Botticelliâ€s style paralleled the allegorical pageants that acting troupes staged in Florence as chivalric tournaments but structured around allusions to classical mythology. The same trend is evident in the poetry of the 1470s and 1480s. Artists and poets at this time did not directly imitate classical antiquity but used the myths, with delicate perception of their charm, in a way still tinged with medieval romance. Ultimately, Botticelli created a lyrical and courtly style of visual poetry parallel to the love poetry of Lorenzo de†Medici.

Early Italian Renaissance Art:
8-15: LORENZO GHIBERTI, east doors (Gates of Paradise), baptistery, Florence, Italy, 1425–1452. Gilded bronze, 17′ high. Modern copy, ca. 1980. Original panels in Museo dellâ€Opera del Duomo, Florence. By: Scott Gilchrist, Archivision, Inc. 1/7.
https://digitalbookshelf.aionline.edu/#/books/1111904871/pages/51103559
In Ghibertiâ€s later doors for the Florentine baptistery, the sculptor abandoned the Gothic quatrefoil frames for the biblical scenes (compare FIG.8-14) and employed painterly illusionistic devices.

The individual panels, such as Isaac and His Sons (FIG. 8-16), clearly recall painting techniques in their depiction of space as well as in their treatment of the narrative. Some exemplify more fully than painting many of the principles the architect and theorist Leon Battista Alberti (FIGS. 8-33, 8-36, and 8-37) formulated in his 1435 treatise, On Painting. In his relief, Ghiberti created the illusion of space partly through the use of pictorial perspective and partly by sculptural means. He represented buildings using linear perspective (see “Renaissance Perspectival Systems,” page 232, and FIG. 8-17), but the figures (in the bottom section of the relief, which actually projects slightly toward the viewer) appear almost fully in the round, some of their heads standing completely free. As the eye progresses upward, the relief increasingly flattens, concluding with the architecture in the background, which Ghiberti depicted in barely raised lines. In this manner, the artist created a sort of sculptorâ€s aerial perspective, with forms appearing less distinct the deeper they are in space.

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